Looking for Law in All the Wrong Places: Justice Beyond and Between


For many inside and outside the legal academy, the right place to look for law is in constitutions, statutes, and judicial opinions. This book looks for law in the “wrong places”—sites and spaces in which no formal law appears. These may be geographic regions beyond the reach of law, everyday practices ungoverned or ungovernable by law, or works of art that have escaped law’s constraints.

Looking for Law in All the Wrong Places brings together essays by leading scholars of anthropology, cultural studies, history, law, literature, political science, race and ethnic studies, religion, and rhetoric, to look at law from the standpoint of the humanities. Beyond showing law to be determined by or determinative of distinct cultural phenomena, the contributors show how law is itself interwoven with language, text, image, and culture.

Many essays in this volume look for law precisely in the kinds of “wrong places” where there appears to be no law. They find in these places not only reflections and remains of law, but also rules and practices that seem indistinguishable from law and raise challenging questions about the locations of law and about law’s meaning and function. Other essays do the opposite: rather than looking for law in places where law does not obviously appear, they look in statute books and courtrooms from perspectives that are usually presumed to have nothing to say about law.

Looking at law sideways, or upside down, or inside out defamiliarizes law. These essays show what legal understanding can gain when law is denied its ostensibly proper domain.

Contributors: Kathryn Abrams, Daniel Boyarin, Wendy Brown, Marianne Constable, Samera Esmeir, Daniel Fisher, Sara Ludin, Saba Mahmood, Rebecca McLennan, Ramona Naddaff, Beth Piatote, Sarah Song, Christopher Tomlins, Leti Volpp, Bryan Wagner

Publication date: 
March 5, 2019
Publication type: 
Edited Volume